Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

About those carbon emission regulations . . .

How important are the proposed EPA regulations on power plant emissions? Actually not too shabby, I would say. Ben Adler at Grist runs down the content of the proposal, which is more than your average newspaper or talking head has bothered to do. The regulations bind the states to reductions based on their (2005) baseline, defined as emissions per megawatt hour of generation, however they want to do it. The 2005 baseline is cheating because emissions are already down from that year, due to abundant natural gas and the recession, mostly. So there's a head start, and the target -- a 30% reduction by 2030 --is considered unambitious by environmentalists.

But -- this will establish a national policy and give the U.S. more credibility in international negotiations. That is if and only if a Democrat is elected president in 2016, of course, because the regulations probably won't even be implemented until then. As Ezra Klein explains, Republicans were actually for controlling carbon emissions until recently. In fact, John McCain and Sarah Palin ran on a platform of a cap and trade system that would reduce emissions by much more than Obama's proposal. Really. In 2008, John McCain said this: "Whether we call it 'climate change' or 'global warming, among environmental dangers it is surely the most serious of all." But then the Koch brothers purchased his withered soul.

The proposed EPA regulations are far too little by themselves to save us from catastrophe. But they will force a substantive public debate, for a change, and at least we're starting to do something. Dangerous and costly warming is inevitable, but we can still keep it to the low range of awful.

1 comment:

Don Quixote said...

I lived in Arizona for four years. The fact that John McCain can be repeatedly elected as a high government official in the U.S. says a lot about our broken system and the level of ethnocentrism and racism inherent in the fabric of America.